Up in the Air

Airplane wing

You guessed it! I’m headed on vacation after a whirlwind speaking/hanging-out-with-oldest-and-dearest-friends trip.

Airports always bring out the philosopher in me. I guess it’s because they throw together such a random assortment of people—a sea of humanity from every imaginable culture, all yakking on cell phones and dragging black, wheeled suitcases—all traveling for their own fascinating reasons. As I lug my always overpacked (but cute and color-coordinated!) bags through concourse after concourse, desperately seeking a Starbucks and shaking my fist at the airport if it doesn’t have one, I people-watch, and I wonder…

I wonder how the Delta guy who checked me in at 5:30 am summoned the energy to smile so brightly and genuinely?

I wonder how the mom flying alone with an infant and cranky toddler is going to maintain her sanity on the flight.

I wonder if the couple in the matching pale yellow shirts did it on purpose, so they can spot each other in the crowd—kind of like baggage tags, only for people.

I wonder if the man traveling with a huge black trash bag spent all he had to buy his plane ticket, but couldn’t afford a suitcase.

I wonder if the lonely man scrunched up on the floor by the only available outlet, typing furiously on his laptop, ever takes breaks to hug his kids.

I wonder if I could walk the airport forever, riding the trains from concourse to concourse, living off prepackaged food and ridiculously overpriced bottled water and fashion magazines?

I wonder if the well-dressed couple waiting at the gate just got married yesterday, and if this trip signifies their first adventure as man and wife, the first day of forever?

I wonder what in the world possessed the flight attendant to wear five-inch heels. Seriously. This is not a runway… oh, wait, I guess it is. (BAH. That was a totally accidental pun.)

I wonder what the people in first class are thinking as we lowly coach people squeeze past them like cattle. Do they feel smug and superior? Or do they feel a little guilty? Especially when the flight attendants repeatedly announce that ONLY first-class people can use the first-class lavatory?

I wonder if the first-class lavatory really is first-class, or if it’s just a regular airplane porta-potty with a fancy sign.

I wonder why the airlines felt compelled to offer in-flight WiFi… why oh why must we forever be connected and working? Can we not soar above the earth, brushing heaven, and have a break for a couple of hours? Pleaase? (Okay, I know, they did it because of the money… ugh.)

I wonder if the four-foot-tall woman sidling by me in the aisle has been treated like a child her whole life, just because she’s short.

I wonder if they ever wash the airplane pillows and blankets… Maybe it’s better not to wonder about that one.

I wonder what it will feel like to hold my precious babies again, to wrap their cherub chubbiness in my arms and inhale their sweet innocence, to hear their squeaky lisps squeal “Mommy!”, and to snuggle into my husband’s strong embrace… But then, I don’t need to wonder about those things—I already know.

Author: Elizabeth Laing Thompson VIEW ALL AUTHORS POSTS

Elizabeth works from home as a writer, editor, diaper changer, baby snuggler, laundry slayer, not-so-gourmet chef, kid chauffeur, floor mopper, dog groomer, and tantrum tamer. She is always tired, but it's mostly the good kind.


  • Geri Laing May 18, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    We wonder all of those things – you are able to capture all of those thoughts and put them into words. Love it!

  • Alexandra Laing June 17, 2010 at 12:34 am

    I love the line “kind of like baggage tags, but only for people.” Genius:)

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